Wes, ("Wessie") is my sweet, goofy, cuddy, stoic and stubborn as a mule Irish Wolfhound (IW). He is 19 months old and in dire need of help.
When I started writing this, my first draft was full of Wes' medical information. I talked about his elbow dysplasia at 18 weeks old and the complications that followed. I explained that I contacted everyone I could prior to his surgery, vets, breeders and owners from all across the country and that for a little while, the surgery worked. I talked about his need for another surgery and why I need your help. All of which I will still detail below, but facts and figures aren't usually what inspires people to want to help. So here is the honest, bare bones truth of our situation. A Coles Notes version so to speak.
Wes desperately needs surgery. He is in constant unrelenting pain and I sit day after agonizing day watching it, feeling completely helpless. I have tried to come up with a way, any way, to pay for his surgery, but as a newly single mother of a young son and an adult daughter, with a business still in its infancy, it just isn't possible. It's embarrassing having to do this, asking strangers for help, but I would beg, borrow and steal for him. Pride be damned.
People have said I am foolish to fight for him like this, that he's "just a dog", but I don't take offence because I know it simply means they have never been lucky enough to be greeted with a wagging tail when they came home after a bad day, they've never felt the warmth and comfort of a furry face nuzzling into them. They have never had a wet nose pressed against their face or watched their dog do something so absolutely ridiculous and outrageous that their belly aches from laughing. They haven't discovered that every dog has his or her own quirks and personalities and that their owner can tell you ALL about them. They have never felt their heart want to explode watching their dog sleep and thought "I love him so much it hurts". They say I'm foolish...well I say they've just never known the love of a dog.
But, Wes isn't "just a dog". He's my family...
When I think of him spending another moment in pain, when I think of possibly losing him because of this, I can feel my stomach drop. I can feel the sharp pangs of grief. I read a quote once that said "Grief is the price we pay for love". One day my sweet boy will cross the rainbow bridge and I'll pay that price because it's worth it, but that day isn't today or tomorrow and we won't go without a fight!
So, I am asking, begging, pleading, and hoping for your help. No amount is too small, even just sharing this post will help.
Wes is loved. I love him. My kids love him! Anyone who has met him, loves him!
Please help us.
If you have any questions or would like to send a personal message you can email [email redacted]
How it all began:
When I was 10, I met my first Irish Wolfhound at a friend's house. Her family was dog sitting. I was amazed, to me he was as big as a horse! We desperately wanted to walk him, but we were told absolutely not because we were "too small and not strong enough, and he may run away". Later that day her parents went out to run an errand, and we decided to leash up this massive dog and walk him around the back yard, we figured he couldn't run away in a fenced in yard, so what harm could it do? What we didn't think of was that even in an enclosed space, he could still run! Our plan was to walk him together, if we both held the leash then surely, we would be able to walk him! I looped the leash around my wrist and my friend held on lower down the leash. We had one loop done around the yard when a squirrel ran through and he bolted after it! My friend let go instantly, however, the leash was wrapped around my wrist and hand so I was pulled right off my feet and was now on my belly being dragged behind this massive dog; while I was being pulled through the grass I can remember thinking "I want one of these!!" 23 years later and after researching and speaking with breeders and fellow IW owners, and chasing every IW I've ever spotted out and about so I could ask their owners a ton of questions; I finally was lucky enough to welcome a "Wolfie" into my life.
Background and Medical History:
Wes is a 19-month-old CKC registered IW who came from PEI at 15 weeks. He instantly fit into our home of 6 people and a 2.5 year old Great Dane, Teller. I had recently opened a business nearby (Barkyard University) and was so happy to add to our family. The two "boys" (Wes and Teller) were quickly inseparable, and Wes was taking short visits to work with me. About a month (give or take) after Wes joined our family, he started to limp on his front left paw, I worried it might have been pan-osteitis (growing pains), Teller had also experienced this when he was younger. After a few trips to the vet and no improvements, I was told he needed x-rays. His scans showed United Anconeal Process (elbow dysplasia) which I was informed was genetic, and already osteoarthritis was present! I was absolutely devastated!
After being given his diagnosis I immediately contacted his breeder and started researching. I also reached out to other IW owners, I spoke to every veterinarian I could, we had a consult with a specialist, I contacted the Irish Wolfhound Club of Canada, I was put in contact with several other IW breeders, and owners. I found a breeder who consulted a veterinarian colleague on my behalf who was adamant (like all of the other veterinarians and surgeons I had spoken with) that Wes must have surgery as soon as possible. His breeder felt differently and offered to purchase him back from me or replace him with a new puppy, to which I flatly refused. He was MY family, I couldn’t imagine returning him because of his condition. I loved him too much! My whole family did.
So, March 2017 Wes had surgery to repair his elbow. He did "ok" with surgery but had serious complications afterwards. Immediately after surgery he had issues with mobility in his back legs, he could barely walk and the specialist could not explain why. I massaged and stretched his legs endlessly (as advised) to get them working again so he could walk. He was in a lift harness as he struggled to bare weight on his front leg and was recovering from the mobility issues in his back legs. Almost as soon as he was released from the hospital he began showing signs of internal bleeding, so we ended up back and forth with the specialty center trying to diagnose this new complication. Ultimately, it was determined that he had a belly full of ulcers, including his small bowel. This was caused from the anti-inflammatories he had been taking for pain and inflammation. He was taken off those medications immediately and given new medications. During this time Wes was taking over 8 medications a day, most of which could not be taken near the same times as others, some had to be with food, and others were to be taken on an empty stomach. So, I made a color coded and time scheduled spreadsheet to make sure he was given the right medications at the right times.
After about 5 months Wes was determined to be "likely as good as he will get". That meant he would never have the abilities he would've if he had never had elbow dysplasia and would likely always require some medication to alleviate discomfort, but that he would be able to run, play, go for walks, explore, and "be a dog". And he was! From approximately August to December he went for almost daily walks, he ran, he jumped, he played, he explored in the woods and on beaches, and he began to visit work with me again for short intervals. During this time, he was on daily low doses of pain medication, receiving Cartrophen injections monthly, and having laser treatments on the elbow (to help with inflammation as he was no longer able to take anti-inflammatories).
Current Medical Issues:
Unfortunately, by mid-December he started really slowing down; at 17 months of age he was acting as you would expect a senior to. He went in for a vet visit and we decided to increase his laser treatments and medications, then we discussed trying acupuncture. We were so hopeful he was simply experiencing an increase in inflammation, and that the laser and acupuncture would help reduce it in combination with his injections and laser treatments. After a few weeks he went downhill very quickly. He was constantly crying, barely able to sit or stand for longer than 5 minutes and avoided playing with his canine brother. He became anxious and restless, his pain would get so bad he would pace, the pacing made his pain increase, in response he would cry, loudly. It was awful to witness, and I can't even begin to describe how helpless I feel! He is waking me several times throughout the night by coming to my bed and crying in my face. I get up and ice it, apply heat, sit on the floor with him and rub his leg; I am still doing whatever I can think of to help him with his increasing pain. We were frequenting his vet by this point for his laser (3X/wk) and acupuncture, and his veterinary team were witnessing the significant deterioration of his personality and witnessing the increase of swelling in his elbow. They ordered x-rays again to check on the elbow. We all worried it was bone cancer, as it was progressing so quickly, but none of us were saying it out loud.
The day Wes went in for x-rays I was a mess! I worried how he'd do with sedation (giant breeds are known not to tolerate sedation and anesthetic well), I was terrified it was cancer, and I was so worried his elbow was in terrible shape. As soon as he was wheeled out of the x-ray room, Wes' favorite assistant Amanda (I want to thank her here, she truly is amazing with him!), called me. The first words out of her mouth were "He's ok, and it's NOT cancer! But, his elbow is really bad." In a 5 second span I felt relief and then immense sadness. I went in to talk to his veterinarian about the results, and she told me in her opinion Wes needed surgery. Soon. There was no doubt that his elbow was causing him significant pain as it was in bad shape. She explained there were many small bone fragments, like splinters, floating around his elbow space and joint, and that the long bones going to the elbows were spiky. She explained he had significant deterioration of the elbow, and the arthritis was worse as well. We sent the scans to have them read by a radiologist to confirm what the veterinarian had seen, and they did. The radiologist also pointed out that his right elbow (the "good" one), was starting to show signs of "degeneration not due to an underlying cause", meaning his right elbow was starting to be negatively impacted by overcompensating for the left elbow. We adjusted his medications to doses that require an extra bottle of them be sent to his veterinarian each month because Wes takes as much as is usually delivered from the pharmaceutical distributor, himself, per month!
Here I was again trying to figure out how to help him. We consulted The Guelph teaching hospital, the PEI teaching hospital, and I found other veterinarians to consult in addition to our veterinarian team. It was determined his best chance at giving him quality of life was surgery followed by stem cell treatment. Thankfully, our veterinarians in Paradise, NL are officially trained in the stem cell treatment Wes would have! But, we need to get him to UPEI Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Charlottetown PEI, for the surgery to fix his leg (remove all of the floating bone fragments that are causing him such pain in and around his elbow joint, every time he bends his leg and to shave off/file down all of the spiky fragments on his long bones); during surgery he will have the fatty tissue needed to harvest the stem cells surgically removed. His appointment in PEI was made for the next available time, because he NEEDS this surgery. Without it, his quality of life in the future is dismal.
Wes spends about 90% of his day laying down. The other 10% is spent eating, doing his business and moving from one space to another to lay down. He cannot go for walks, he is in constant pain, he still cries often, he wakes me every night crying and groaning, he goes outside and lays on ice or snow because it helps alleviate his elbow pain. Sometimes Wes throws up from pain as well. He is laid down so much, he has pressure sores on the areas of his body that bones or joints are more prominent. It's heartbreaking to watch! Wes is 19 months old. He will be 2years on Canada Day, and this sweet boy has not had much of a puppy-hood due to all of his troubles.
Getting Wes to PEI for his appointment on April 4, 2018 means everything to me. It ultimately means his life. Without this surgery and stem cell treatment (to promote healthy tissue and cell regrowth, in addition to preventing poor cell regrowth. Or at least substantially slow down future elbow degeneration) Wes has no quality of life, he has nothing but pain and suffering. Wes stays confined to the house, laying down. All of the professionals involved in Wes' current care, and advising his treatment options, believe this surgery will drastically improve his quality of life, and keep it that way.
Surgery and Travel Details:
I am unable to cover the entire costs associated with his surgery, travel, accommodations etc. I have spent countless days and nights while up with Wes, combing through all the ways to save money for his surgery and travel costs. Due to Wes's height, length and weight, flying becomes extremely costly for him, while driving will be substantially cheaper. I have spoken to several hotels, motels with efficiency units, cottage rentals, and even air-bnb hosts, to find the cheapest accommodations possible. We need accommodations without stairs, because helping him up and down stairs after surgery when he far outweighs me and I'm by myself (solo travel also cuts cost significantly), is simply impossible. I am looking for accommodations with kitchenettes and if need by I will purchase a hotplate to prepare meals so I do not have to eat out. I have attempted to obtain help from his breeder once again, and she has out right refused any help, despite her obligation to Wes, as his breeder. Therefore, I am trying to fundraise $6000.00 to help with all of these costs.
I have arranged additional fundraisers such as a paint nite, two-100 squares with large prizes, and a portrait taking day for owners to schedule their dogs alone, or a session with their family members and their dog(s) for Easter. I also commit that any funds raised in excess of what is needed, will be placed in a fund to help another person/family with medical expenses for their beloved dog. I simply cannot afford the entire cost of this next surgery, but I cannot fathom not having Wes in our lives either. Please help us.
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